Reflections on the June 2018 Turkish Elections

Reflections on the June 2018 Turkish Elections

Though mostly symbolic under the new system, the nationalists, in their new political posture, also provided the much-needed support for the ruling party to attain a simple majority, at least, in the parliament. Therein lies the true dependence of the ruling party and the president on the support of the nationalist party for exercising any of the broad powers that the new system shall provide for them.


Equally, this also marks the era of real political coalitions in the Turkish political arena once again, while also demonstrating the potential for serious limitations on decision-making flexibility of the new presidential government model in a clear contrast with what was originally intended by the new system. As such, the new, faith-based and nationalistic partnership of dependency shall dominate the style and political psychology of the political life in the country in its domestic and international outlook in the years ahead.


With regard to the role and the position of the political opposition and considering the circumstances of grossly asymmetric conditions on the campaign trail in favor of the ruling party in a “snap” election, it is clear that both at the presidential and parliamentary levels, opposition parties and individual candidates have performed quite successfully. On one hand, they managed to restore the pluralistic outlook of the parliament as a six-party platform which carries significant value for the future prospects of politics in Turkey.


On the other hand, individual candidates performed outstandingly, exceeding even the most optimistic expectations in electrifying their respective constituencies and effectively rallying grass-root support for the defense of the parliamentary system and for the preservation of the pluralistic nature of the political system and political institutions in the country.


The opposition fell short on one critical point during the campaign, though: they got trapped into campaign themes based on personality-targeting, supported by quick-fix, “redistributive promises” within the very system that, itself, breeds inequalities, poverty, hopelessness, personal tragedies of people who have nowhere to go or nobody to turn to.


As such, they failed to communicate and offer a convincing case of a truly alternative vision of the world, taking the individual in the center of attention as the indivisible and equal part of a common polity, ensuring fairness and security in its orientation for the present and the future. One last word for the opposition: an impressive performance on the campaign stage, effective social media, sincere and real touch with the crowds are all but no substitute for sound, consistent, well-thought out, comprehensive statements of ultimate political goals, an alternative political vision and strategy.